Translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett
Mr. M is being watched. As a famous writer, he is no stranger to the limelight, although interest in his work has been dwindling of late. His print runs are smaller than they used to be, as are the crowds at his bookshop signings . . . Our narrator clearly takes a keen interest in M.’s work, and indeed in every aspect of his life. But what exactly are his intentions? And to what does Mr. M owe the honour of his undivided attention?
Our narrator seems to be no stranger to murder, while his own story appears to bear more than a passing resemblance to the plot of Mr. M’s most famous novel: a teacher has an affair with a student, only to be brutally murdered by the girl and her teenage boyfriend. The body is never found.
That’s the problem with fiction: in real life, bodies have an awkward habit of turning up. Mr. M has used some artistic licence, and our narrator is not pleased, not pleased at all. And just before he fades into obscurity, he’s prepared to give Mr. M one last review. And it’s unlikely to be a rave.
Dear Mr. M is an unsettling and irresistibly readable literary thriller, set in the world of writing and bookselling, by Herman Koch, the author of the international bestseller, The Dinner.
About the author
Herman Koch was born in 1953. He is the author of a number of novels – including The Dinner, Dear Mr. M and Summer House with Swimming Pool – short stories, has acted for radio, television, and film, and was a co-creator of the long-running Dutch TV comedy series Jiskefet. The Dinner has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide and spent a year on the New York Times bestseller list. Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, and Chloë Sevigny also star in the film adaptation.
Four characters are the cornerstones of this novel. Jan Landzaat, a young married history teacher in the seventies of the 20th century has s short-lived affair with Laura, a student in the 5th grade, stalks her and then disappears mysteriously. A rather arrogant writer, M. (Mulisch?), writes a successful novel about this notorious case “Reckoning”. His downstairs neighbour, one Herman (then fellow student and lover of Laura) writes him a rather threatening letter some forty years after the disappearance of Landzaats in which he announces that on account of how M. fictionalized the issue, he has “specific” with him. Will the matter of Landzaat yet be clarified? The smooth reading novel shows the dangers of “framing”, with elements of a thriller and is a satire on the literary scene.